Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high performance capabilities. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they're more likely to be injured or killed. The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2012, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 26 times the number in cars. 1

Because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths 2 and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. 3  Yet only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders. 

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not designed for on-highway use, but in recent years more than 300 riders died in crashes on public roads annually.  

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

A total of 4,381 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2013. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcyclist deaths decreased by 16 percent in 2009 compared with 2008 and increased slightly in 2010, 2011, and 2012 before decreasing by 7 percent in 2013.  Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2013 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997. 

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Passenger vehicle occupant deaths

Motorcyclist deaths

All motor vehicle deaths

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

1975

30,601

69

3,106

7

44,525

100

1976

31,724

70

3,232

7

45,523

100

1977

32,823

69

4,004

8

47,878

100

1978

34,923

69

4,448

9

50,331

100

1979

35,026

69

4,712

9

51,093

100

1980

34,996

68

4,955

10

51,091

100

1981

33,711

68

4,737

10

49,301

100

1982

29,656

67

4,267

10

43,945

100

1983

29,154

68

4,099

10

42,589

100

1984

30,094

68

4,425

10

44,257

100

1985

29,848

68

4,415

10

43,825

100

1986

32,224

70

4,309

9

46,087

100

1987

33,145

71

3,832

8

46,390

100

1988

34,105

72

3,491

7

47,087

100

1989

33,599

74

3,030

7

45,582

100

1990

32,711

73

3,128

7

44,599

100

1991

30,810

74

2,702

7

41,508

100

1992

29,457

75

2,291

6

39,250

100

1993

29,994

75

2,346

6

40,150

100

1994

30,820

76

2,215

5

40,716

100

1995

31,914

76

2,138

5

41,817

100

1996

32,354

77

2,077

5

42,065

100

1997

32,343

77

2,056

5

42,013

100

1998

31,781

77

2,227

5

41,501

100

1999

32,008

77

2,419

6

41,717

100

2000

32,109

77

2,829

7

41,945

100

2001

31,938

76

3,123

7

42,196

100

2002

32,724

76

3,187

7

43,005

100

2003

32,166

75

3,641

8

42,884

100

2004

31,750

74

3,904

9

42,836

100

2005

31,455

72

4,460

10

43,510

100

2006

30,628

72

4,699

11

42,708

100

2007

29,155

71

5,050

12

41,259

100

2008

25,547

68

5,112

14

37,423

100

2009

23,507

69

4,286

13

33,883

100

2010

22,351

68

4,324

13

32,999

100

2011

21,413

66

4,403

14

32,479

100

2012

21,906

65

4,695

14

33,782

100

2013

21,268

65

4,381

13

32,719

100

Passenger vehicle and motorcycle driver deaths by driver's license status, 2003-2013

Year

Passenger vehicle drivers

Motorcycle drivers

No valid license

Valid license

Total*

No valid license

Valid license

Total*

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

2004

3,024

14

18,726

85

21,952

100

866

24

2,702

75

3,593

100

2005

3,154

15

18,572

85

21,953

100

1,002

24

3,116

75

4,142

100

2006

3,423

16

17,941

83

21,592

100

1,134

26

3,219

73

4,387

100

2007

3,206

15

17,142

83

20,542

100

1,239

26

3,461

73

4,740

100

2008

2,702

15

15,399

84

18,266

100

1,190

24

3,561

74

4,782

100

2009

2,407

14

14,294

85

16,834

100

886

22

3,077

77

3,987

100

2010

2,273

15

13,672

85

16,029

100

874

21

3,127

78

4,022

100

2011

2,254

15

13,225

85

15,561

100

891

21

3,210

78

4,120

100

2012

2,366

15

13,464

85

15,915

100

1,049

24

3,296

75

4,381

100

2013

2,305

15

13,138

85

15,530

100

1,045

26

3,049

74

4,126

100

*Total includes other and/or unknowns

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

A 2009 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute report found that:

  1. 48 percent were speeding.
  2. 42 percent had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or higher.

Possible Causes of a Motor Vehicle Accident

However, the primary reason for motorcycle accidents is that motorcycles offer little protection when a collision occurs. Although helmets can save lives, motorcyclists have little else to rely on should a crash occur.

Helmet Statistics

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), wearing helmets is the single best way to prevent motorcycle accident fatalities, with a rate 0f 37% for riders and 41% for passengers.

Alcohol and Motorcycle Accident Statistics 

Speeding and Motorcycle Accident Statistics

 Motorcycle Accident Statistics and Possible Causes

Motorcycle accidents almost always result in injuries, extensive medical bills, and treatments. This in turn can lead to lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional turmoil, and much more. Victims deserve to be compensated for the negligence of another party. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you have legal rights, and may be entitled to financial compensation.

Keep in mind that you’ll have a much better chance at winning the maximum financial compensation you deserve if you retain an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. A leading motorcycle accident lawyer knows and understand the complex set of laws and standards that come along with motorcycle collisions.